Schools Out!

The summer is here and schools, colleges and universities across the country are finishing for the big summer break. Annual leave requests from employees for July and August significantly increase. Parents juggling childcare with work and school holidays are usually the first to hand in their requests, with many colleagues soon following, simply because it’s summer!
So how can businesses manage the increased number of annual leave requests fairly, without impacting on operations and still meeting their business needs?

This can be especially pertinent within small organisations with fewer members of staff to cover annual leave. The key to effective holiday and leave management is to treat all requests fairly and consistently, and this is best achieved by having a clear policy on requesting leave.
•It’s a good idea to insist that employees give a minimum period of notice when requesting time off, to enable suitable cover to be arranged.
•Having a holiday planner on the notice board in the office can help keep the process transparent and enable staff to plan around each other where possible.
•Good management of staff leave can go a long way towards preventing unplanned absences and improving overall employee engagement.

It sounds simple, but having a structured annual policy in place is the first rule for managing annual leave fairly. Whether you are a start-up, small business or larger organisation, having an annual leave policy should be one of the first things you administer – after all, every employee is entitled to annual leave.
Whatever annual leave entitlement your organisation offers, ensure it is documented. Here are some considerations for formulating an annual leave policy.
1.The UK statutory holiday entitlement including Bank Holidays is 28 days (if a standard five day week is worked)
2.As an employer, you can offer additional days as an enhanced employee benefit, but it is not a requirement.
3.Could you consider flexible working at certain periods of the year to accommodate particular needs? This might enhance your reputation as an employer of choice.
4.Consider whether annual leave entitlement increases due to the length of service.
5.Consider part-time and irregular hours workers; holiday entitlements need to be pro-rata.
6.Consider your peak periods of activity, do you want annual leave to be taken during your busiest week? Holiday entitlement can be restricted outside of these times. Employees are not automatically entitled to choose when their annual leave is taken.
7.Be mindful of the legal right to reasonable “time off for dependants”, which can give your employees time off to deal with emergencies.
8.Consider how many employees could be on annual leave at any time and set a maximum to ensure the business impact is significantly lessened. Think about whether you include a maximum period of leave.
9.Specify a minimum notice for all annual leave applications, this will allow you time to reflect on the business needs before approving.

Consider the business objectives and deliverables
If most of your employees requested the same two weeks off over summer, could you manage? Could your business operate with minimal effect to delivery? If so, then use it to your advantage. If your business is completely the reverse and has its peak trading periods during the summer, this again might be something to consider in the annual leave policy. Employees do not have an automatic right to choose when they take annual leave.
If like many businesses, there are no peak or lean periods during the summer, but you are still impacted by the demand for annual leave – consider how many people in the department or business overall are needed to deliver what is necessary and therefore the maximum that can be off at any period of time.

First Come, First Served Rule
There is no hard and fast rule to approving annual leave requests, especially at busy times such as summer, but consider the golden oldie of ‘first-come-first-served’, especially if you operate a ‘no more than‘ rule.
Just bear in mind, employees who get their requests in first. Do they always get their requests in and ask for key summer weeks off? Consider a rotation system to ensure other team members don’t feel disgruntled if their colleague always gets to have the main weeks off summer off.
As always if you need help in writing your annual leave policy or with any other issues raised here, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0121 516 0299, 01905 824051 or at


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